The software industry throws a lot of jargon around. With a smorgasbord of abbreviations, acronyms, and terminologies, it can be difficult to keep up. However, among this jargon, a term that is ever-more important to understand is iPaaS. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is (if it’s not already) going to become an integral aspect of every business’ data model. It is exactly the type of solution that cloud-dependent enterprises need to bring together the multitude of systems they employ. But, what is iPaaS exactly? Why is it so necessary in today’s cloud-focused business world? I’ll explain.
What is iPaaS?
Originally coined by Gartner, the term iPaaS refers to cloud-based integration platforms that are able to connect various applications, systems, and technologies. The versatility and power of iPaaS solutions serves the digital well-being of businesses by allowing them to not only connect applications easier, but also standardize how those applications are added to their organization and where, whether the application is on-premise or within the Cloud. Integration flows can be deployed and maintained through iPaaS solutions and data can be moved across applications without friction.
Software companies use iPaaS as their infrastructure for deploying applications in the Cloud and creating connections. Using APIs, prebuilt connectors, or other rules, these solutions utilize the iPaaS to set the constraints for the types of connections they want to allow in their systems. With these rules in place, the iPaaS produces a holistic environment to manage and modify everything from data, to infrastructure and operations.
What’s Usually Included in an iPaaS Solution?
Integration Platform as a Service solutions require some basic functionalities to be able to do what they do. Here are the most common must-have iPaaS functions:
- Endpoint connectors: Endpoint connectors are a magic bullet of iPaaS. The point of using an iPaaS for integration is to make it easier to connect different types of applications without needing to code directly with the API. Endpoint connectors are what makes this a reality. These connectors can exist for specific applications or for universal communication protocols like FTP, HTTPS, OTFP, XML standards, SWIFT, etc. Endpoint connectors power the iPaaS’ ability to simplify integration, and thus they are a crucial functionality of any iPaaS solution.
- Developer tools: Connecting anything to anything is just the beginning of what is possible with iPaaS. Part of the extended value of iPaaS is the ability to then customize and optimize the integration flows between solutions. Developer tools within the iPaaS make this possible. They help teams build the level of customization they desire.
- Error handling: Human beings, even careful ones, are prone to mistakes. Error handling in iPaaS is essential for teams to identify and mitigate errors that may occur during the data transfer.
- Data governance: For data to perform to the standards a business expects, it must be properly maintained. Data governance sets rules for how data can be used, when, and by whom, to ensure the highest quality of that data. An iPaaS will usually offer data governance capabilities to define which users are granted permission to which data. This capability prevents unauthorized users from accessing or altering crucial integration data sets.
- Lifecycle management: There are a lot of moving parts to iPaaS integration, and because it’s so robust, the complexities that result can be even harder to manage. That’s why lifecycle management capabilities are important. Lifecycle management acts as a centralized console to develop, manage, and govern integrations. As data exchanges connect disparate systems and siloed data sources, lifecycle management helps teams keep track of it all.
The Benefits of iPaaS
As mentioned earlier, iPaaS technologies help businesses integrate all sorts of applications faster. With the superior ability to standardize how the applied processes are updated, monitored, and maintained, businesses can streamline their communication and better understand their data. Externally, this contributes to higher customer satisfaction because the automation and analytics that result inform better customer care. However, there are also many internal benefits to the organization.
Consolidating to a Single Solution
The majority of businesses today rely on several solutions to keep things running smoothly. Over time, plugins, widgets, and supporting software are often added into the mix to continue to satisfy the needs of the growing organization. Instead of having to manage each of these applications separately, iPaaS consolidates that management into one cloud-based location.
When third-party integrations are deployed across various environments, it can lead to issues down the road. Information can become scattered, hidden, and difficult to access. iPaaS eliminates these data siloes by eliminating the need to deploy technologies across the various environments. From this view, data can be managed and accessed across applications with ease.
When teams dial into a meeting, they are each using their own individual connection. In the same sense, when users access software they are creating an independent instance within the shared environment. If many users need to be in the system at once, this can slow down the solution for everyone. iPaaS bypasses this issue with multitenancy. Multitenancy allows for shared instances among the “tenants” of the software, so the system doesn’t get overloaded.
Security and compliance are both essential when handling critical business data – especially when that data lives in the Cloud. The centralized platform of iPaaS makes it easier to spot threats and respond quickly because information from every environment is accessible in one place. In addition, when a security change or compliance regulation is necessary, the change can be made in one location and then be dispersed across all connected environments. iPaaS means data in motion, so data is rarely saved in the iPaaS solution. This reduces the risk because the data is never saved in the Cloud.
Real-time data sharing enabled through iPaaS keeps data accessible and current to all parties. Having the most accurate, recent data can make all the difference for sales, marketing, and service efforts and automations.
Best Practices for iPaaS
Although iPaaS is a great way to connect your technology ecosystem, it can’t do all the work on its own. It’s important to have a plan for how you want to implement your iPaaS solution and the goals you want to accomplish. Here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re following iPaaS best practices:
- Do we know what kind of data we want to integrate?
- Do we know where the data currently lives and in how many applications it lives? For example, multiple solution may be collecting customer data.
- How does the data need to flow between these applications? One-way? Two-way? Via a triggered action?
- Do we understand the different data types (strings, integers, booleans)?
- Does someone on our team have scripting experience or do we need outside help?
- Does someone on the team understand how Web services work?
A scalable and purpose-built iPaaS solution, StarfishETL delivers its functionality on an easy-to-use platform with an extensive connector library. To learn more about iPaaS with StarfishETL, visit our iPaaS page, or contact us today.